Welcome, all, again. Having finally caught up with this season’s shows on Crunchyroll that interest me, I decided to go after some other recent shows that somehow got away, beginning with Dimension W. To be honest, I lost track of a number of shows that I was planning to watch. And the partnership that began between Crunchyroll and Funimation last September did nothing to help. While I understand the move from a business standpoint, from my own standpoint as a paid subscriber to both sites, well, things got a bit inconvenient–especially when Funimation unexpectedly cancelled my membership for me. That was both irritating and distracting. So, half-a-year later and I finally managed to restart my subscription. . .and finally got around to watching Dimension W!
I’ll begin with a question: have you seen SoltyRei? Because if you have, you’ll immediately slip into this show’s mindset. A haggard, lone-wolf kind of guy with blatant antisocial tendencies and a distrust of technology bordering upon hatred finds himself saddled with a robot/android-like being with the appearance and demeanor of a human girl. So the initial character pairing felt like a comfortable homecoming. Kyouma Mabuchi is a collector [read as: repo-man] of illegal energy coils who confronts and eventually partners with Mira Yurizaki, described as a highly advanced robot. Mira’s very existence is tied closely to Kyouma’s past, but both are ignorant of this link, which grows more important as the story progresses. Like Solty Revant from SoltyRei, Mira conceives of herself as human and is discomfited by references to robotics. One primary difference in character design between the two shows, however, is that Roy Revant is older than Kyouma and was married with a family that he lost. This allows him to accept and even adopt Solty as his daughter, an emotional connection not really available to Kyouma. He and Mira must first imagine some sort of relationship before they can create it. The fun is in watching them try.
Well, it’s usually fun. But one element of this show that leaves me cringing is the casual violence that Kyouma directs at Mira. Quite beyond his constant belittling of her, when Kyouma gets angry or annoyed he occasionally lashes out and hits Mira–obviously thinking that it doesn’t matter because (as a machine) she cannot feel pain. Now, aside from such [grotesque] logic, these incidents are even more disturbing for being random and gratuitous. And the fact that this behavior is reserved solely for Mira makes it feel vaguely like witnessing domestic abuse. Anyway, I could have easily lived without that little quirk in the show, and wish that I might have. The story would be better without it.
Otherwise, this series hits all the right notes. It’s fast-paced with plenty of action. It offers some fun sci-fi to play with, and asks questions about reality that–however trite–still need to be answered individually to have real meaning. For example, what are the nature and limitations of sentience? Does sentience establish emotion, or possibly validate it? Is our conceptualization of life big enough to embrace the non-organic? Additionally, character development is unhurried and feels fairly natural. And the military is portrayed in human terms, shown doing their job without being censured as tools (that scores big points with me!).
Is the premise believable? C’mon, it’s a sci-fi anime! There’s a bunch of background noise about Dimension W offering unlimited energy, and about the manifestation of possibility, etc., but the real story is embodied by the characters. And so, implied wife-beating aside (a real shame, that), this show offers just the perfect bit of escapism. I’m glad that I went back and watched it, and readily recommend it (albeit with reservation, noted below).
[Parental Note: Again, I caution that Kyouma’s spoken disrespect and casual physical violence towards Mira are not only disturbing in and of themselves, but mirror domestic abuse. Be prepared for some resultant uncomfortable discussions with younger viewers.]